Do You Have a Medical Malpractice Case in New Jersey?
Cohen, Placitella & Roth
Feb 3, 2023
Medical malpractice can result in serious, life-altering injury or even death. Although the consequences of medical malpractice can be catastrophic, proving a medical malpractice case can be challenging. If you believe you or a loved one are the victim of medical negligence or malpractice, the best course of action is to schedule a free consultation with a medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible.
You’ve got enough on your plate—a lawyer has the experience to determine if you do have a medical malpractice case in New Jersey and, if so, the resources to help you get the settlement, verdict and recovery you deserve.
What to Expect in a New Jersey Medical Malpractice Case
Medical malpractice laws varies by state, but most follow a similar structure. Medical malpractice claims in New Jersey range from medical error by a health-care provider, nursing home abuse to birth injury and wrongful death.
Consulting with a Medical Malpractice Attorney
Contact a medical malpractice lawyer to schedule a free consultation to see if your claim is worth pursuing. Be selective about the law office you entrust your case with—not every attorney has the experience and resources necessary to prove a medical malpractice claim.
Look for the following characteristics when choosing a law office to represent you:
- Experience: Consider what type of cases the law office has worked on in the past and how many of those cases were successful. Pay special attention to medical malpractice cases—how many have they taken on, and how many reached a settlement out of court? How many went to trial, and what were the verdicts? What types of settlement amounts have they secured?
- Success: A reputable medical malpractice attorney will have testimonials and examples of previously successful cases available upon request or on their website.
- Payment: Avoid working with a law office that requests up-front payment for your case instead of working on a contingency fee basis. You should also stay clear of anyone wanting to charge you for the initial consultation as well as those who advise you to move forward with your claim despite a lack of evidence.
During your free consultation, a medical malpractice lawyer will help you determine if your case is provable in a court and if you might be eligible for a settlement.
Reaching a Settlement Versus Taking Your Case to Court
If you move forward and your lawyer advises that you file a medical malpractice case, there may come a time where you will have an opportunity to reach an out-of-court settlement with the medical professional or organization in question or your medical malpractice case will go to trial.
An out-of-court settlement is often preferable if the offer is fair given the nature of your case. A settlement provides you with certainty – there is no risk of an adverse jury verdict, there are no delays of appeal and you can avoid emotional challenge that comes with a drawn-out legal proceeding. However, sometimes medical professionals or insurance carriers refuse to enter into a fair settlement, in which case the matter will need to go to trial. If a medical malpractice matter goes to verdict, either a judge or a jury will be asked to determine if a medical provider was negligent and whether the negligence caused an injury. If the answer to these questions is yes, the judge or jury will then award damages. If the answer is no, the plaintiff cannot collect a recovery. Whichever side loses at trial, they may consider appealing the outcome of the case to a reviewing court.
The largest verdict payment awarded in New Jersey was for $70 million, though it was later overturned by the New Jersey Supreme Court and sent to retrial upon knowledge that the jury had been exposed to bias against the medical professionals on trial.
New Jersey is one state with a cap on damages, New Jersey also recognizes a charitable immunity for certain non-profit hospitals which limits their liability which caps the monetary value plaintiffs can recover at $250,000. This limit however does not apply to individual health care providers working at or employed by non-profit hospitals. New Jersey also has limits on punitive damages that can be recovered though such damages are rare in medical malpractice cases.
Required Elements of a Medical Malpractice Claim in New Jersey
Each state sets its own statute of limitations for medical malpractice cases. The New Jersey Supreme Court has established a two-year statute of limitations for cases against licensed professionals or entities.
Generally in New Jersey, the two year statute of limitation begins to run on the date of the injury. In medical malpractice cases however, the law recognizes that an injury may not surface right away (for instance a patient may not know an x-ray showing cancer was misread as negative) or a injured person cannot know they were harmed by negligent medical care. And so, the law recognizes that the two year period during which a lawsuit must be filed may not begin to run until the person knows, or through the exercise of reasonable diligence, could have determined they were harmed by negligent care. When someone knew or could have discovered these elements are fact specific determinations. And so, it is important to act promptly and speak with a lawyer right away if you suspect you’ve been hurt by medical care. The two-year limit begins when a plaintiff knows or should know of their personal injury. New Jersey law also recognizes discovery, meaning the limitation does not begin until such time that the discovery is made.
Radiology, laboratory and medication errors are examples of when the discovery rule benefits the victim. For example, if you were prescribed a medication for a condition three years ago and only just found out that the medication was not the correct treatment option for your known diagnosis, you still have two years to file a claim if you were injured as a result of the error.
How Soon to File a Medical Malpractice Claim in New Jersey
The sooner you file your claim, the better. Proving a medical malpractice claim can be a complicated, time-consuming process. It requires, among other things, proving that your claim meets the following elements:
- You or a loved one you’re acting on behalf of were under the care of a medical professional that owed you a specific duty of care.
- The medical professional breached that duty of care.
- The breach resulted in a personal injury, wrongful death, or similar harm that you or a loved one wouldn’t have sustained otherwise.
- You or your loved one suffered one or more types of damage because of those injuries.
Evidence Needed to Prove Your Case
You and your attorney will also need to collect sufficient evidence to prove your case, such as:
- Expert medical testimony from a relevant industry expert who can affirm the validity of your claim, based on their expertise and the evidence you present them.
- A complete history of your claim, including all medical records, any related appointment notes or phone messages, the names and information of all involved parties, how and when you discovered your personal injury.
- Any related video footage, treatment notes, surgical recordings, and test results from the facility or practitioner in question.
- Any relevant witness statements from parties present or otherwise aware and/or involved in the situation prompting the claim.
- A full account of you and/or your loved one’s experience, including proof of the injury, details about the extent of the injury, and evidence proving a link between the personal injury and some level of damage, such as loss of income, medical costs, emotional distress, or even death.
In the event of a wrongful death lawsuit, you will need official death certificates and additional evidence to prove the cause of death and make a provable connection between the medical negligence and the death.
Suing for Medical Malpractice in New Jersey
Negligent medical care can impose a huge emotional toll on the victim. Some common medical malpractice claims include birth injury, such as brain hemorrhaging or spinal cord injury, and catastrophic injury as a result of misdiagnosis or missed diagnosis.
Under New Jersey law, you can have a medical malpractice and a product liability claim if a medical device malfunctions. In this case, a medical malpractice attorney can help you seek compensatory damages, economic damages, and potentially punitive damages for both medical negligence and product liability.
Examples of damages resulting from medical malpractice include:
- Loss of employment and/or loss of future employment, income, or earnings potential.
- Costs of all appointments, treatments, and procedures to treat and care for patients injured due to medical malpractice.
- Ongoing physical and/or mental therapies to help you live with the catastrophic injury.
- Financial recovery for the amount already spent on the surgeries, appointments, or treatment as a result of malpractice.
- Costs associated with victims of wrongful death and their remaining loved ones, such as final resting expenses, loss of income for their dependents, and any care, treatment, or diagnosis rendered prior to their passing.
Suing for Emotional Damages in New Jersey
Under New Jersey law, you can also recover compensation for emotional injuries if provable in court. However, proving emotional injury due to medical malpractice can be challenging. For example, in the 1997 case Greene v. Memorial Hospital of Burlington County, plaintiff Geraldine Greene attempted to prove that she suffered emotional distress as a result of the medical professional’s negligence, which ultimately resulted in her daughter’s death. The court ultimately found that Green failed to prove that her distress was a direct result of witnessing the medical negligence.
An experienced medical negligence attorney can help secure evidence sufficient to prove emotional injuries due to medical negligence. Recoverable injuries for emotional distress can include the following:
- Depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress, or related conditions resulting from an unnecessary condition, change in lifestyle, loss of employment, or loss of limb associated with your personal injury.
- Pain and suffering after losing a loved one to a wrongful death resulting from negligence.
Who You Can Pursue Legal Action against in New Jersey
You can sue any physician, nurse, health-care provider, team of medical professionals, organization, employer, or entity responsible for causing an injury due to medical negligence. A medical malpractice attorney can help you determine which party to name as the defendant in your case. An experienced medical malpractice attorney can also assess your claim to see if it’s worth the time and expense of pursuing the claim. Look for a law office that works on a contingency fee basis. Under a contingency fee agreement, you do not owe anything if your case isn’t successful. If you do reach settlement, however, the lawyer will usually recover case costs and collect a portion of the settlement amount as a fee.
Medical malpractice cases are not limited to hospitals or cases of nursing home abuse. You can also pursue action against
- physical therapists,
- clinical psychologists,
- specialists in various practice areas,
- diagnostic professionals,
- primary care physicians,
- nurses and nursing assistants,
- ambulance care providers,
- surgeons and technicians, and
- pharmacies or pharmacists.
This is far from an exhaustive list. If you believe your catastrophic injury or a loved one’s wrongful death was the result of a medical error, you should contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney without delay.
Settling Medical Malpractice Cases in New Jersey
It’s difficult to know what exactly your chances are for reaching a settlement or receiving a payout via verdict. Each medical malpractice case is different. Recoveries will vary depending on the unique facts and circumstances of each case. Schedule a free consultation with a New Jersey law office and give them the facts of your case. Include any relevant information about your medical record, personal injury, or wrongful death claim. They will look at all the facts and advise the most appropriate course of action.
Although it’s impossible to predict a medical malpractice recovery with precision, experienced attorneys can look at past verdicts and settlements in your jurisdiction in formulating settlement demands. In this sense, history can be a guide. Between 2010 and 2022, about 1,300 of all medical malpractice payouts were for $50,000 or less, while 131 were equal to or greater than $2 million.
One Sussex County medical malpractice case resulted in a $1.28 million lawsuit settlement after the client’s medical malpractice attorney successfully proved that his wife’s death six months prior was a result of Saint Clare’s Hospital emergency room’s failure to deliver a proper diagnosis and subsequent treatment.
Settlement totals depend on a variety of factors such as:
- The nature of your medical malpractice claim.
- Whether your settlement is part of a court verdict or out-of-court structured settlement.
- The defendant’s previous history with medical malpractice claims, wrongful death cases or similar.
- The amount of evidence available and how the jury receives it.
When to Expect Payout for Your New Jersey Medical Malpractice Claim
You will receive payout much faster if your lawsuits settles before trial. But the specific timeline will depend on numerous factors, including on how soon you file your claim, how long it takes to negotiate and reach a settlement agreement, and other factors.
Should your case move to court, you will only receive a settlement payout if the jury finds your evidence sufficient to prove liability against the health-care provider and you succeed in any appeals that follow a successful verdict. The court process can take anywhere from several months to several years and depends on numerous factors, including:
- How long it takes to compile enough evidence to prove your medical malpractice claim.
- How much information you’re able to provide your law office up front and how much relies on research and investigation.
- Whether you’ve presented your medical malpractice attorney with accurate and up-to-date medical records relevant to your claim.
- How long it takes to get your case in suit and on your specific jurisdiction.
- The amount of time it takes to present your case and the defendant’s case in front of a jury.
- How long it takes for the jury to reach its verdict.
Once a verdict is reached, you might also have to contend with the appeals process.
Do You Have a Medical Malpractice Case in New Jersey? Let CPR Law Help.
The experienced team of medical malpractice lawyers at Cohen, Placitella & Roth has earned a distinguished reputation for achieving life-changing outcomes by combining decades of experience, tenacity, and fresh strategic perspectives to each case we undertake.
We champion and seek justice for our clients guided by a shared goal of doing what’s right and making a positive lasting impact on their lives.
Contact us online or call (888) 560-7189 to schedule a free consultation.
Cohen, Placitella & Roth Law Offices take on—and win—the fights that others think can’t be won. Our team of lawyers has earned a distinguished reputation for achieving life-changing outcomes by combining decades of experience, tenacity and fresh strategic perspectives to each case we undertake. We champion and seek justice for our clients guided by a shared goal of doing what’s right and making a positive lasting impact on their lives.